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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bacterial cells produce abundant hydrogen from wastes

Researchers from Pennsylvania State University have coaxed common bacteria to produce hydrogen in a new, efficient way.

Bruce Logan and colleagues at Penn State University have created a modified Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) capable of converting waste products into hydrogen gas at efficiency rates of up to 82%; paving the way for sustainable hydrogen production from any type of biodegradable organic matter.

By using common exoelectrogenic bacteria in specially designed reactors with the addition of a small voltage to the circuit, hydrogen gas was produced at the rate of 1.1 m3 per cubic meter of reactor per day. The efficiency of the process is far in excess of the next leading alternative fuel, ethanol, which has at best a 50% overall energy efficiency; at worst a negative gain.

Read the published paper at PNAS.

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